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Employee Appreciation Day 2021: A Guide For Leaders and Managers

Feb 19, 2021

Patient with thumbs up and a group of doctors at the backgroundEmployee Appreciation Day is just around the corner!

And it's widely known that employee appreciation is directly tied to employee engagement, productivity,  job satisfaction, employee morale and workplace happiness—among others.

To help you think about how you can celebrate Employee Appreciation Day (or week) at your company, we've put together a guide with an overview of the holiday, activities to plan at the office, and gift ideas for you to draw inspiration from.

What exactly is Employee Appreciation Day?

Employee Appreciation Day is a day for companies to thank their employees for their hard work and effort throughout the year—and it was ultimately created to strengthen the bond between employer and employee.

According to David Nuualiitia, "Employee Appreciation Day first arrived on calendars in 1995. One of Recognition Professionals International’s founding Board members, Bob Nelson, together with his publishing company, Workman Publishing, created Employee Appreciation Day as a way of focusing the attention of all employers, in all industries, on employee recognition."

When is Employee Appreciation Day?

Employee Appreciation Day is an official holiday that is celebrated on the first Friday of every March. For this year, that means it will be observed on Friday, March 5th, 2021.

While the holiday is technically only one day, many employers choose to extend the celebration and show extra gratitude to their employees for the whole week leading up to the special day.

Employee Appreciation Day ideas

Whether you decide to celebrate for just one day or the entire week, here are some fun ideas for employee appreciation activities:

  • Organize team games
  • Host a workshop on painting, cooking, etc.
  • Stock the office with delicious snacks
  • Volunteer as a team
  • Allow pets to visit the office 
  • Give out company swag
  • Treat employees to a leisurely lunch
  • Bring in food trucks
  • Throw a team happy hour
  • Organize a potluck
  • Take a field trip together
  • Present mock awards or career-driven awards

Employee appreciation gift ideas

If you plan to celebrate the holiday by giving presents to your employees, here are some unique employee appreciation gift ideas:

  • Coffee cup, travel mug, or other drinkware
  • Notebooks and journals
  • Desk accessories
  • Daily or weekly planner
  • Headphones or other tech accessories
  • Blue light glasses
  • Chocolate or other munchies
  • Team lunch or team dinner
  • Gift cards for places like DoorDash, Target, gas stations, etc.
  • Subscription boxes such as produce and meal boxes (or even boxes for pets)
  • Subscription services such as Netflix, YouTube or Hulu 

You can also use any of the above gift ideas to create an "appreciation" gift bag for your employees—and personalization always makes gifts more meaningful!

Pro tip: Whether you decide to do gifts or not, be sure to write personal thank you cards and messages to each employee. Handwritten notes go a long way!

Make your company culture even stronger

Show your employees how grateful you are for their hard work by trying out the employee appreciation ideas listed above at your workplace. For more hands-on assistance, reach out to me today to start creating a more engaging culture! Together, we'll determine how I can best help you, your team and your company. 

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